Sunday, August 17, 2014

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

It's cucumber time in my little Wisconsin Garden. I love them in freshly sliced in simple salads with my own garden tomatoes but when you have far too many to eat fresh, you need to make pickles! This year, I decided to branch out from my usual Refrigerator Pickle recipe which is sweet and similar to a Bread and Butter pickle.  I love them but my husband prefers dill pickles so here you are, Honey :)  When I first offered him a taste he said "These are really good!". 

I mixed my own herbs and spices, added some fresh dill flower heads and lots of garlic.

Since I had so many dill sprigs left after making the dill pickles, I also made some dilly beans and zucchini spears using the same recipe! I added a few thinly sliced onions to dilly beans (see note below)*.  I am still looking at quite a few dill flower heads so looking for more veggies to pickle now :) 

I love my Fido Clamp Jars that you see in the very first photo, the Golden Harvest jars that the beans are in and the Weck jar above but for refrigerator pickles, beans and zucchini you can use any glass jar with a lid that you have as they are not 'canned' in the traditional way. You will need to keep these stored in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.  

My favorites jars I only use for decoration...

These are jars are from my mother's antique bottle and jar collection that she shared with me and my sister before she passed away.  I use them as vases and also display them with other memorabilia from my late mother on a shelf my little home office.  

Wouldn't you love to know who originally owned them, how many recipes were made and stored in them? I believe the 1/2 gallon Ball Mason jar on the right is probably the oldest dating to around 1900. Considering the fact that few people even owned a refrigerator until much later, canning jars were a very important part of life then.  Can you even imagine? 

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Makes about three 1 1/2-pint jars (my jars were varied sizes)

12-15 small pickling cucumbers (the bumpy ones)
2 cups water
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
Fresh dill flower heads - about 1 large to 2 small heads for each jar
9 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into 2-3 slivers


1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dill seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole juniper berries (optional)
1 bay leaf, crumbled

Combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat just until warm and the sugar and salt have dissolved.  Set aside to cool. 

Combined seasonings in a small bowl.  Divide the seasoning mixture equally among the jars you are using. 

Trim ends from cucumbers and slice.  I like the slices fairly thick - about 1/4-1/2 inch but you can also cut them into spears if you like. Fill each jar with sliced cucumbers but leave about 1" from top empty. 

Tuck in 1-2 dill heads into each jar and about 3 slivered garlic cloves.

Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over the cucumbers to cover. Cover jars with lids and close tightly.

Refrigerate at least 7-10 days for best flavor.

Pickles will last refrigerated about 2 months - if you don't eat them all before then :-)

*My Note on Dilled Beans:  I parboiled fresh beans for 3-1/2 minutes and then plunged them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process before putting them in jars with pickling solution. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cheesy Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Power Greens

I can't believe it's already August and two weeks from my last post!  We have gone from a cool, rainy spring and early summer, and are still stuck in a cooler-than-normal weather pattern here in the Midwest, but we are trying to enjoy as many mid to late summer activities as we can possibly can with friends and family. 

These tasty little morsels were created just after making the roasted tomato tarts from my last post.  I had a good sized portion of puff pastry dough left and hated to throw it away so I looked on the puff pastry box for inspiration and saw a recipe for spinach pinwheels using thawed, frozen spinach.  I didn't have frozen spinach but what I did have in the frig was several ounces of organic power greens that were going to be thrown out if I didn't use them quickly.  I also had some mozzarella and shredded Parmesan in the freezer.  A sprinkle of dried red bell pepper flakes, hot red pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of ground pepper.  Ready, set, roll!

I didn't measure anything but I think I used about...

1/2 sheet of thawed frozen puff pastry, rolled on a floured surface into a rectangle
2 cups of bagged or boxed organic salad greens (kale, spinach, baby chard)
2 teaspoons of dried red bell pepper flakes (love that stuff)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of salt - optional as the cheeses are salty
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

1 egg, whisked with a teaspoon of water to seal the puff pastry and egg wash for the pinwheels

I layered everything on my puff pastry, rolled it up tightly, lengthwise - brushing the last 1 inch edge of puff pastry with the egg wash to seal it together.  Then, I cut it the roll into approximately 1-1/2 inch slices and placed them on a silicon-mat-lined baking sheet and brushed each slice with additional egg wash.

375 oven - 15/20 minutes or until golden and voila!

If you're looking for quick, easy and delicious appetizer for your busy summer, give this a try.  They are delicious! Be daring and adapt them to whatever you have on hand :)